Let us explain what this is and why this is so crucial for you to understand. Last year the State of Washington Passed the Zachary Lystedt Act aimed at protecting youth athletes from the dangers of Brain Trauma. Zacahary Lystedt’s story has been highly publicized. The fact is he and his Family saw too it that Zach’s Traumatic Injury on the football field was not in vain and that incredible change came from that for the protection of all kids. His law was the first of its kind. SEE THE STORY HERE.
But Life is Ironic and Cruel at times….. sometimes it can be both..
and in the year where advocates celebrated the passing of this great law we also sat in horror as over a 9 day period we saw the Traumatic Football related Injuries of two Washington High School Players and the Tragic Death of one of them.
One of these boys was #7 Matthew Newman, a Junior at Highland High School in Cowiche, Washington. Matthew was severely injured in an Overtime Game and was the starting quarterback for his team. He was dealt a blow and suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury and underwent radical life saving surgery… many months later he struggles to try and regain his health and the life that he had.
The Other Boy living some 150 miles away from Matthew was Andrew “Drew” Swank of Hauser Lake, Idaho. Drew was #15 for the Valley Christian Panthers in Spokane, Washington. Drew also received a hard blow during a game and went down. He had the same radical life saving surgery but despite all efforts he passed away.
The two boys were both star kids. They both were great students and athletes. They both were popular and were leaders in school and on the field. In so many ways they are similar beyond belief. Safe to say had the two ever met they would have been great friends. But we will never ever know as that can not happen now.
Both families grieve the loss of the sons they had. Drew is gone from this earth never to return. Matthew is here struggling for a normal life but in many ways not the same. He is a fantastic kid and to meet him is to meet one of the greatest people alive.
Of major significance is the fact that the boys both got hurt on the same night (September 18th, 2009). Matthew was rushed into Surgery that night and had to fight for his life for weeks to come. Drew’s concussion was less severe so he went on after being cleared to play the next Friday. That would prove to be a terrible mistake.
On September 25th, 2009 as Matthew Newman clung to Life in a Hospital Drew Swank stepped back onto the Grid Iron in a game against perennial State Champ LaCrosse-Washtucna in rural Eastern-Washington. Late in the second quarter Drew went down from a hard block. It was the last play he would make and the last time anyone would see him truly alive.
Their story is not unique. Across America no one keeps track of the deaths that occur on the field of battle. They also don’t keep track of the injured and kids like Matthew and his Family who are in many cases left to fend for themselves. Well it is time that we do. And it has to start somewhere.
Working together with the Swank and Newman Families we have the beginnings of a plan to make a difference and to try and insure that this type of injury never happens again. This effort is being named the “Team 7:15 “ and in a brief explanation here is what this is about.
TEAM 7:15 will be represented by the logo you see here. It is comprised of the Scottish Flag which is a symbol of strength and honor… with Matthew Newman’s #7 on Top and Andrew “Drew” Swanks #15 on the Bottom.
Another connection here is that Matthew Newman’s High School Mascot is the Highland Scotties. So these two boys are proudly honored on a very strong symbol which represents them both appropriately.
The Latin Words underneath are “Semper Mementote” and this simply means “Always Remember”.
We will always remember through this symbol the sacrifice that these two boys gave for America’s Sport.
This type of terrible injury may have been prevented. If there is anything we can do as a collective body to prevent this from happening to athletes in the future we will be committed to doing just that.
So what we are making the “Team 7:15” effort about is as follows:
Most Games in America Start between 7:00 to 7:30. So we remember #7 and #15 during that time, about 7:15 PM, and remind ourselves to:
- Remember to Watch All of Your Players for the early warning signs of a Concussion if you are a Coach, Trainer, Parent, Teacher, Administrator, Fan…. you get the picture.
- Remember to make your Health your #1 Concern if you are a Player
- Remember to Watch out for Your team mates health.
- Remember to be Careful and Diligent if you are a Parent. Take a very active role in your athletes health and educate yourself on the topic of concussions and traumatic brain injuries.
- Remember to Never Make a Return to Play Decision without being 100% certain it is OK to do so. The Players Health is always the ONLY priority.
- Remember how lucky you are to be alive, healthy, and playing this great game that we all love.
and lastly… whatever else you do….
- Remember #7 Matthew Newman and #15 Andrew “Drew” Swank and the thousands of Boys and Girls like them that have given it all for their teams.
“Team 7:15” will seek out schools wanting to do more and will ask them to commit to more. We are encouraging such things as:
- ImPACT Concussion Testing or similar Neuro-Cognitive Baseline Testing in the off season so that we have that as an analytical tool for staff, doctors, and parents to use in return to play decision making. We will sponsor schools in need of help getting this program started.
- Education of All Coaches, Trainers, Doctors, Parents, and Players on the increasing dangers of concussions and this is focused on the latest information and research from the CDC and other similar agencies.
- And we are committed to making sure that all Athletes stay out of contact sports and DO NOT RETURN TO PLAY until they are 100% healthy. This is not an easy thing to do because the kids will play hurt!
There is much more to do but these are three Front End Prevention Measures that “Team 7:15” hopes to take hold of and further in order to make a difference. We hope to change a Culture in sports and particularly in Football where there exist Systemic Problems. We know it will take time but we need to find a way to move ahead. These simple tenants and goals and objectives in and of themselves will save lives.
That is the whole point. We do not ever want any player of any Family to have to live through what these families and those like theirs are living through… enough is enough. Now is the time we move ahead and save our kids and save this fantastic game of football.
Now to Join us and show your commitment just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at 503-799-8383. We will discuss how we can help you or your school/team get the ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) program in place and what else we can do to help. The Helmet Stickers are on us! Welcome to the Battle!
Watch the Videos Below as well to understand more about what happened Matthew and Drew.